THE tickets have sold out in seven minutes, George Groves vs Chris Eubank Jr will take place on February 17 at the Manchester Arena in a richly anticipated ITV Box Office clash.
Groves is putting his WBA super-middleweight title on the line and Eubank, on a run of impressive performances, has joined him as one of the biggest names in British boxing. To kick off their upcoming rivalry the two fighters came face-to-face for their first press conference at the Savoy hotel in London on Tuesday.
As well as being a world title fight, their collision is also one of the super-middleweight semi-finals in the World Boxing Super Series, a highly remunerated tournament format that will reach its conclusion in the summer. The winner of Groves-Eubank will box the victor of Callum Smith versus Juergen Braehmer in the final later this year.
Both Groves and Eubank had their respective Super Series quarter-finals in October. With a crunching body shot Groves halted Jamie Cox to defend his world title in four rounds. Eubank travelled to Germany and dazzled as he knocked out Avni Yildirim in the third round.
“The hype behind this fight will be huge,” George Groves said, “I think the form the history, the experience, the ability, all lie in my favour. I’m looking forward to a big night but it’s the semi-final of a tournament that I plan to win.”
“He puts on the façade that he can do it all himself. But it’s very difficult doing things on your own,” Groves added. “This is his first real fight, big fight, definitely at super-middleweight. He’s going to fall short in a lot of categories.”
Eubank hit back, “I’ve had many big fights. This is probably the biggest fight in terms of profile, in terms of hype, in terms of the tournament. At the end of the day I rise to the occasion always. The bigger the fight, the better I perform. George seems to be hung up on what I’m going to do, how I’m doing to change and conform. He needs to worry about himself.”
Eubank maintained, “I’m going to do what I’ve been doing my whole career. Follow my intuition, find a way to overcome any and all obstacles.
“It doesn’t matter if my gameplan goes out the window, I will find a way to stop George Groves. I’m a man of my word. Georgie will not see the 12th round.”
“This is my time. I’m a different animal to what I was two years ago, a year ago. George is the same guy,” Eubank insisted. “Nothing he has can outweigh the fire and the heat that is going to be brought down upon him.”
“We’ll see won’t we? I like Junior’s attitude. He was my sparring partner. We used to pay him to do rounds,” Groves shrugged. “He’s terrific for a soundbite. Those things work for him which have made him insta-famous. This is different.
“I’ve got experience to rival any fighter right now. This is a stepping stone. I know what he does well. I know what he doesn’t do well.”
Junior responded, “I’m not a stepping stone, I’m a mountain and you are not going to climb me.”
A Eubank event is rarely complete without a contribution from the father. “I wasn’t going to talk,” Chris Eubank Senior declared. “Look at the extraordinary way he dispatched the powerful Avni Yildirim. This is pedigree. And I have nothing more to add.”
Prevailed upon to expand Senior did continue. “He hasn’t been trained by PE teachers, no disrespect but that’s what most trainers are,” Eubank senior said. “All I can do is try and harness him when he’s doing too much to his opponents.
“This is for me by far the most dangerous fighter on the planet.”
Groves reflected, “It’s a pivotal point in the relationship between the father and son because so far he’s done him [Junior] a massive favour by being addicted to the attention [but] has he outgrown the father?”
“This is a special fight,” said World Boxing Super Series boxing officer, Kalle Sauerland concluded. “On February 17 in a sold out Manchester Arena the battle of Britain will commence.”
“This really is a mega-fight. It’s a fight which will have an enthralling build-up. Two unbelievable athletes, two unbelievable characters … and a storyline that has been written by the tournament,” he continued. “I think it is the super-middleweight fight to make, inside the tournament or outside the tournament.”